Cooking From Your Pantry, Marinated Chickpea Salad

marinated chickpea, tomato and cucumber salad

Warming a can of chickpeas in extra virgin olive oil, garlic and herbs before adding them to your favorite salad makes a huge difference in flavor. Add them to perfectly ripe tomatoes, crisp cucumber chunks and a light lemony dressing for a summer salad bursting with Mediterranean flavors in every bite.

well stocked pantry

I’ve lived through blizzards in New England, hurricanes in Florida and the recent problems with empty grocery shelves so I have always had a well stocked pantry.

The Atlantic hurricane season starts in June and goes all the way to November 30. Even though our home has a whole house generator if the power goes off, I like to be prepared to weather a storm. That means having plenty to eat in case grocery shelves are empty for days or weeks, much like at the beginning of the Covid pandemic.

Even if there is no natural disaster or pandemic, sometimes I just want a quick dinner prepared from what I have in our own kitchen and that is when a well stocked pantry comes in handy.

I like to keep my pantry stocked with pastas, rice, condiments, oils and vinegars, olives and pickles, crackers, peanut butter, canned tomatoes, tuna, stock, dried and canned beans. I always have a large variety of canned beans, especially cannellini, black beans and chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, as they are a good source of protein.

Recently, I bought a generic can of chickpeas as the grocery store was out of the usual brand I buy. After tasting a bean, I found it bland and too firm to my liking so I decided to microwave them to soften the canned beans slightly. Rather than cooking them with the liquid from the can, I drizzled the chickpeas with extra virgin olive oil, added some diced red onion, fresh minced garlic and seasoned them with dried oregano, salt and pepper. I didn’t want the chickpeas to burst so I cooked them for thirty second intervals until they were just warmed through. The chickpeas had taken on a nutty flavor and the onions and garlic had both lost their raw bite.

Previously, I drained and marinated chickpeas at room temperature while I prepped the tomatoes and cucumbers for one of my favorite summer salads. As I was to discover, sometimes a simple change in a recipe can make a big difference in the final dish you are preparing.

I was surprised at how microwaving the canned beans in olive oil for such a short time had enhanced their flavor. If you don’t have a microwave, heat the oil, sauté the onion and garlic, add the drained beans and seasonings and cook until heated through before making this marinated chickpea salad.

heirloom tomatoes from the garden
Ripe Heirloom Tomatoes Picked From Our Maine Garden

My husband and I refer to this marinated chickpea, tomato and cucumber salad as our summer salad. It was usually made when tomatoes were abundant in our New England gardens. Though fresh tomatoes won’t hit their peak in most areas until August and September, our season here in Florida is just coming to an end and good heirloom tomatoes will be hard to find. That is when I’ll make this salad with smaller cherry and grape tomatoes, which tend to be sweet, especially if you can find the Sugar Bomb variety.

Marinated Chickpea, Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Serves 2, adjust the recipe according

  • 2 – 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil plus extra, if needed
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I typically use a 7.7 oz. can for 2 people and a 15.5 oz. can for 4 persons)
  • 1/4 of a small red or sweet onion, diced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • a pinch of dried oregano
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • juice from 1/2 lemon or to taste
  • 2 to 3 ripe heirloom tomatoes or 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and quartered (seeds removed if large)
  • fresh basil, thinly sliced (I often use mint as a substitute)

Add the chickpeas, oil, onion, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to a microwave safe bowl and stir well. Cover and microwave at 30 second intervals for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until just warmed through. Uncover, stir and let the mixture cool to room temperature. The longer the chickpeas sit, the more flavorful they will become. Once the chickpeas have marinated, cut up the tomatoes and cucumbers into bite size pieces and add to the bowl with the beans. Gently stir and let the salad sit for a few minutes for the flavors to mingle. When ready to serve, add the basil, gently stir and taste to see if more olive oil, lemon juice or seasonings need to be added. Be sure to serve this marinated chickpea salad with warm bread to soak up the wonderful juices that accumulate while the salad is marinating.


This simple marinated chickpea, tomato and cucumber salad has always been a favorite. The one change I made of warming the chickpeas briefly in the microwave made them absorb the flavor of the dressing so much more effectively. I’ll continue to use this technique whenever I use a can of beans from my pantry for a quick bean salad.

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47 thoughts on “Cooking From Your Pantry, Marinated Chickpea Salad

  1. I will certainly be making this and using your technique. I love chickpeas and as I don’t eat meat, they are thrown in a lot of meals. But it is hot here in Spain right now and will continue to be for a couple of months, so this will be my main meal!! Thank you so much. xo

  2. Hi Karen. I love this idea and you know what? I am going to make this tonight! 😃 Chickpeas are a favourite of mine, and I often just add them to a salad, but this method of marinating them will certainly make a difference. I don’t have any basil right now, but I will use parsley and maybe some sage? Thanks for sharing. Hope you are doing alright Karen. 🤗

  3. Great recipe, Karen! It’s always good to have a go to salad to put together in a pinch. This is so appetizing with colorful summer veggies and lots of flavor! Stay safe!

  4. That’s a great tip! I ususally cook chickpeas from dry, but like you, I keep a few cans and jars in the cupboad in case of emergency. BTW, I was listening to a radio programme recently about Spanish beans and pulses, where it was stated, that the ones in jars have better taste and texture than tins, because less intense heat is used in canning with jars.

  5. I’ve never tried microwaving canned beans — will have to try that. We love beans in salads, and always have a good supply in our pantry. This one looks great! Exactly the sort of dinner we have a couple of times a week at this time of the year. Thanks!

  6. I have never warmed chick peas for a salad… what a neat idea! I have all the ingredients… and will do this salad this evening. It will go well with BBQ ribs.
    Thank you!

  7. This may be simple but the flavors and textures create a really complex dish – love this, Karen. While we don’t have to worry about hurricanes too much, we do have monsoon season and can lose electricity for extended periods. I love having a side gas burner on my grill – it would be perfect for heating the beans in the oil.

  8. This is my kind of salad! I always have a stocked pantry as well. Living in the mountains of NC for years and now here in Florida with hurricane season it makes since. My condo does not have a generator, but I do have a camp stove to use on the lanai if need be!

  9. You are totally speaking my language here. No matter what, I always make sure there’s at least one can of chickpeas in the pantry. This is a perfect example of why! I love those simple, fresh flavors that creates a satisfying meal in minutes.

  10. Love this recipe, and I’m definitely going to be marinating my chickpeas from now on before adding them to salads. Starting tonight! 🙂 ~Valentina

  11. You never know what Mother Nature has up her sleeve so having a well stock pantry is imperative. Could not agree more. Love all of those fresh heirloom tomatoes- so good and simple to make.

  12. That was a great idea to microwave the less-than-stellar beans with olive oil. Good olive oil makes so many things better. I wonder if you could have turned the chickpeas into hummus, too, by blitzing in a food processor. I’m wondering if that might have salvaged the texture, as well.

  13. I only recently tried marinating chickpeas and I will never go without again. This salad looks lovely & so delicious.

  14. I have all the ingredients at home, I’m going to try this for dinner tonight. I have a little corn left and I’ll add that as well. Thanks for sharing the recipe and for the tip!

  15. Cooking from our pantry is something we definitely need to do. It was nice getting a comment form you – glad you found a way.

  16. WE have similar pantries. However the main difference is that mine has several bags of dried beans rather than canned. It’s ot near as convenient as using canned beans, but I’m on a low-salt diet, so it’s better for me to just cook up a pot of beans. With that said, I do have some beans that I cooked in the freezer, so pulling them out and making a tasty salad like this is ideal for the summer. Thanks for the idea.

  17. I regularly improvise with chickpeas, Karen, and consider them a staple. I’m so glad to receive a more composed recipe I might regularly follow. I find chickpeas very satisfying, nutritious, and certainly economical. This is great. 🙂

  18. I have to confess that I’m not someone who keeps a well-stocked pantry. If you opened my cupboards, they look full, so on first glance you might think I’m well-stocked, but if you look closer, you see it’s a mismash of strange odds and ends. I’m constantly trying to use things up! But actually, a chickpea recipe is really useful to me, because that’s exactly the kind of ingredient that I’d buy for something, and then have extra chickpeas hanging around in the cupboard indefinitely. I think I’ll use them up!

  19. Love the idea of using the microwave to heat up the chickpeas, I’ll have to try it next time. Also, your pantry looks like mine, always full and organized. Your salad sounds delicious! We’ll have to try it soon, thanks so much.

  20. That looks divine, Karen. Throw a can of tuna on it and it becomes a Spanish favourite, Ensalada Mixta! I just looked in my pantry and I’m out of chick peas, must put that on my list, thanks for the reminder.

  21. yes i love to have a well-stocked pantry too with lots of beans etc. And i adore chickpeas. we eat them often. i like to toss them in a saucepan with various seasonings. they do add so much flavour and texture to a dish. funnily enough i actually like to buy the ones that are quite firm. i think the italian brands are less mushy than our aussie ones 🙂

  22. Karen, your marinated chick-pea salad looks and sounds delightful. Interestingly, I keep chick peas in my pantry, and when I need to use up vegetables in my refrigerator, I chop my vegetables and always add a can of chick peas. I generally toss them with olive oil, and lemon, and spices. Your idea of heating up the olive oil, with onion and garlic is a great idea! I will be adding this step next time.


  23. Ohhh I love how organised that pantry is. And that salad reminds me of summer, its getting cold from where I am so it will be at least 6 more months before I can enjoy salads like these

  24. I didn’t even know you could warm chickpeas up like that, Karen, thanks so much for the tip. Your tomatoes look amazing and I love all the other ingredients you added to give this salad some pizazz. I could totally take this to the beach! Hugs, CoCo

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